Authoress's Note: This was written as part of an LJ drabble challenge for Jordanna Morgan. She requested something Magneto from the Movie-verse. Thanks go out my beta, Theriaka, for pointing out my ever persistent typos. Concrit welcome! Enjoy.
Disclaimer: As usual, I don't own anything Marvel, so please don't sue. I am already in debt.
So close, he thought, looking at the chessboard, pieces scattered from a previous game, I was so close.
Erik Lehnsherr continued to stare at the metal chess pieces in front of him, idly trying to retrace the steps of the game that had been played at the table before him. Erik sat at the chess table with a straight posture, but with his golf cap tipped downwards and jacket collar turned up. He made no moved to rearrange the chess pieces back into their starting positions, there no longer seemed to be any purpose to play the game, or any game for that matter: Erik was one of them now.
He only went by Erik now, and the first few times he spoke the name again after so many years it had felt strange on his tongue, like he was trying to speak a language not his own. It was ironic, he had mused at the time, that he, Erik, had been born into this world as one of them, was shunned for most of his life, and now returned to living as one of them. He was now to die as one of them, after having trying to destroy them only a short time ago.
Once the irony had come and gone, desperation and anguish had set in. Returning to Erik had been such finality that he had lost all focus, all sense of purpose, all will to live. Erik had spent today, like most of the last days, wandering aimlessly, watching people, or sitting aimlessly in a park filled with chessboards and people.
There was an emptiness in his heart and mind that Erik had felt once before, when he had been separated from his family as they had been sent to the gas chambers to die. The following days had become a blur that Erik had never been quite sure how he had survived the days in the concentration camp. Once he had been freed from the camp he had wandered to Israel aimlessly, simply going through the motions, unable to focus on anything greater than himself. It wasn't until Erik had met Charles Xavier that the fog had cleared from his mind and felt like he had a purpose at last that went beyond himself. But now, his old friend wasn't around any longer to help cut through the fog again.
Granted, Charles was the one responsible for having foiled so many of his well thought out plans, but, even as Magneto, he had almost welcomed the challenge of an adversary and the added element of uncertainty an adversary brought to the game. As Magneto, he had always found it a guilty pleasure to see who else Charles managed to recruit and how they faired against the Members of the Brotherhood. Despite the danger Charles had sent them off to, they always stayed faithful. Erik on the other hand had recruits that tended to be more flighty. As Magneto, Erik had always dismissed them as not being dedicated enough to the purpose higher than themselves.
Erik finally reached out and picked up the white queen that had been lying off to the side of the chessboard. Erik mused that the white player had been clearly reckless, losing his queen and king in only a handful of moves. A pang of guilt crept through Erik's gut as thoughts of Raven Darkholme crossed his mind: his queen in the great game of chess.
Thoughts drifted across his mind of how betrayed she must have felt when he left her lying naked in the transport carrier. She had saved his life.
She fulfilled her purpose... Erik thought as he set the chess piece down, upright and next to the white bishop at the side.
Erik idly wondered where Raven was and how she was surviving. He wondered if she also wandered the world as aimlessly: while she had fulfilled her purpose for him, Erik was certain she was far from dead. Erik pondered what he would say to her, should they ever cross paths again, she being beautiful even as a human, and him, feeble and old.
I wouldn't know what she would look like... Erik thought to himself.
Erik had recruited Raven, saved her, from an angry mob of city people ready to hang her from a lamp post in her youth. Raven had hid her true form to try and save herself, but she had slipped and could no longer convince scared and angry humans of her good nature. Raven had counted herself lucky that Magneto had seen her slip; otherwise he would have simply passed right by her. Once Raven had accepted Magneto's offer, and became Mystique, she only wore her true form and had grown in beauty and confidence in her blue, lizard like form. Erik mused that perhaps if Magneto had not been so focused on his mission, on a greater goal, he may have considered letting Mystique in close, letting her become his real Queen.
But now? She would laugh at me. Curse me. Spit on me.... Erik thought dismally.
The more Erik contemplated Raven's possible reactions to a chance meeting, the more he felt at a loss. He truly missed Raven's unfailing presence at his side, and her unending loyalty. Erik regretted his reaction as Magneto to her humanization, and felt that he would never have the chance to make amends now. What reason would she have to hunt him down after his humanization?
Erik picked up two white pawns that he assumed to also have been eliminated, and placed them upright next to the white Bishop and Queen.
Just pawns, Erik thought ruefully, but they would have shifted the balance of the war so drastically...
Thoughts of Jean Grey and Scott Summers came to Erik's mind, and how badly they were played by both he and Charles. Somehow the death of two of Charles's prize students crushed Erik's hope of regaining his sense of purpose, the fight for mutant rights. Of course Erik's DNA would still mark him as a mutant, but now he was helpless to do anything about it. He was a mutant marked with nothing unique or great to show for himself.
The worst part of it all, Erik had decided, was that he felt no different than when he could use his powers, when he could manipulate and master magnetism. There were moments where Erik would swear he could still move the metal in the shelter he was residing in. He would instinctively and unconsciously reach out his hand in the kitchen and expect a fork or knife to automatically come to him.
No, that's not the worst part, Erik reminded himself as he looked at the chessboard filled with the remaining pieces.
In rare moments, when Erik let himself be completely honest with himself, he could admit that the worst part of the present situation was that Charles had been more right in his approach to win over humans, and Erik had been... less right in his approach. And now Charles was the one who was dead, unable to see the future he had set in motion.
I'm sorry old friend. You have done more for me than I could ever you for, Erik thought as he reached out for the black Bishop.
But before his fingertips reached the figure it tipped slightly and Erik quickly pulled his fingers away. The Bishop righted itself and then stood still. Erik blinked in shock for several moments before his eyes darted around to the people in the park, seeing if anyone else had noticed what had happened. Erik held his breath and when no one seemed to fall out of step with what they were doing he slowly let it out. Erik forced himself to relax his shoulders and casually fold his hands one over the other on the table. He carefully eyed the black bishop, scrutinizing it. Erik glanced around again, making sure everyone was still going about their business before concentrating on the chess piece. He flicked his fingers in the black Bishop's direction.
The figure fell over.
Erik's heart leapt and it took almost everything in his power to stop him from leaping up along with his heart. Erik took a deep breath to calm himself down. Just to be certain though, Erik flicked his fingers again and the bishop stood up. Erik's face broke out into a big smile.
It's wearing off!
For a fleeting moment Erik believed everything would be alright, everything would be back to normal, once he fully regained his gift. But then he looked up and over the empty chair across from him and was brought back to reality: nothing would return to the way it had been.
You should be here old friend, Erik thought with sadness, I'm afraid I will still be a little lost without your constant nagging in my head.
Erik took a deep breath and pushed forward as any survivor would, quickly formulating a plan where best to experiment with his returning ability. He knew the perfect place, and smiled as another wave of irony set in. Erik stood up quickly and turned away from the chess table, wanting to waste no time to get to his destination. Before he could take a step a woman stood a few steps away, blocking his intended path.
She was young and gorgeous: a curvy woman with black hair, blue eyes, and flawless pale skin. She wore a three-quarter length jacket and simple dress pants with very high heels. She wore a bright blue scarf that brought out amazing hues in her eyes, and had her hands shoved deep into her coat pockets. The expression on her face was unreadable, but Erik recognized her instantly.
"Raven." Erik said unfaltering, despite his surprise and uncertainty.
"Magneto." Raven replied, equally unfaltering.
"My name is Erik." He replied steadily.
Raven took a step to close the distance between them and looked Erik in the eyes before speaking, "It's a funny feeling when your 'gifts' start coming back, isn't it?"
Erik held her gaze and watched in continued surprise as her eyes flickered from icy blue to yellow, and then back as she continued, "You're just not sure what to do with yourself anymore, do you?"
Erik kept still and felt the animosity emanating from Raven as she spoke and moved and looked at him, especially when she placed special emphasis on the word "gifts". He felt as if his life was dangling by a very fine thread, and if he answered incorrectly he would die, even out in public. Raven would be able to get away with his murder effortlessly if her powers had fully returned, if that was even possible.
"Am I to call you Mystique?" Erik asked cautiously after several moments of silence.
"I'm pretty sure she died the day Magneto left her helpless on a prisoner convoy, after saving his life," Raven answered icily.
Erik swallowed hard, "Magneto may not have been grateful, but I am."
Raven too half a step back and eyed Erik and her eyes narrowed dangerously before she spoke, "Since I found you, I've been waiting for the best time to snap your neck for what you did."
"I expected something of the sort." Erik replied.
She continued, "I was even going to do it while you were just sitting there. But then... then you would never know how much you betrayed me."
Erik felt his stomach sink a little when he realized this conversation was not heading in the best direction. For all he knew, Raven had the upper hand if she had full use of her gift again. It was the first time in a long time that Erik felt fear and helplessness, and he was finding himself with very few ways to regain the upper. But, he maintained his composure.
"Don't you have anything to say to me?" Raven demanded, letting anger slip into her voice.
Erik raised an eyebrow, quickly trying to think of how best to use her anger against herself, despite the risk of her lashing out before his gift returned completely.
Erik tilted his chin slightly upward, easily falling back into Magneto's confident shoes and spoke, "What is it that you'd like to hear from me, my dear? I believe anything I say will only anger you more."
Raven's jaw visibly clenched as she removed her hands from her pockets and clench them at her side.
Erik continued with more air of condescension, "You knew a day like that was coming sooner or later, where our purpose would take precedence over you, even though you were always my... favourite."
"You son of a bitch," Raven spat loud enough for the others chess players in the park to turn their heads at the two suspiciously.
"I know," Erik agreed nonchalantly, "But it was war after all."
"And what is it now? Time to play human?" Raven countered.
"Time to regroup. You may rejoin my ranks if you wish." Erik said, holding out his right hand slightly.
"I never questioned you, I never failed you, and then you left, and now you want me to stand by you again? After all of this, you expect me to forget everything that's happened?" Raven demanded angrily, bring a fist up to her chin.
"The choice is yours Raven, it always has been," Erik said as he hid a smirk: he knew he was cornering Raven.
As bright as Raven always had been, her unresolved parental issues made her still so easy to manipulate.
"I would allow you to take your place at my side again," Erik added.
A look of surprise replaced Raven's anger on her face, followed by one of suspicion. She was right to question his motives, Erik could admit to not having a clue to what he was doing or where he was going.
"Why? We lost the war, what would we gain from attacking humans again?" Raven questioned her tone a little more calm.
"The war is far from over," Erik said shaking his head, "We simply lost a battle."
"But the threat is gone, even a mutant was appointed as a UN Ambassador today. Who is our enemy now? What is our purpose now?" Raven stated challengingly, "Where am I supposed to follow you to now Magneto? Or Erik?"
Erik took a deep breath and slowly let it out, thinking back to the chess board. In his mind Erik had designated all the white as people from the Brotherhood and from Charles's school. Despite altercations, Erik had admitted they always had had the same goals in mind, the same purpose they had to fulfill. Erik's hands trembled slightly as he admitted to himself that he and Charles should have been working together all these years, despite their differences of opinions.
Can I really swallow my pride and admit it to her? To the X-men? To anyone? Erik asked himself as he still held Raven's gaze.
"Well? Erik?" Raven prompted, "Where would you like me to follow you now?"
Erik closed his eyes and drew in another deep breath, Can I do it? How do I say it? What do I gain? What do I lose? What would mutants gain? What would they lose?...
The thoughts raced through Erik's mind as he tried to come to the most strategic solution, Is this what Magneto would do? Does Magneto have a purpose any longer?
"You don't even know where you're going." Raven accused, anger and disappointment lining her voice.
Raven shook her head in disgust when Erik opened his eyes and looked at her.
"Perhaps my dear, you truly have served your purpose and there no longer is a place for you at my side. Not where I intend to go." Erik said finally.
Raven's jaw dropped in shock as Erik spoke. Her hands fell by her sides, unclenched, and she asked in disbelief, "What do you mean?"
Her comment prompted others in the park to look at them again as Erik straightened his jacket and adjusted his hat. Erik took several steps forward, beginning his journey towards a new purpose. He maintained his composure as he strode past Raven, not giving her a second glance.
"What do you mean? Where are you going?" Raven called after him, anxiety rising in her voice, "You can't leave me! You need me."
Erik turned his head without breaking his stride and called over his shoulder, "You're very useful my dear, but I don't need you any longer."